Individual Hudson Valley Apple Pies

Post-Gazette tested

Pie is President Barack Obama’s favorite dessert, so it’s only fitting it will be served at the 57th Inaugural Luncheon at National Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol, following his public swearing-in ceremony on Jan. 21.

Don’t worry if you’re not a baker — this crust is so easy, even a novice can pull it together. Be sure to choose an apple that will retain its shape while baking, such as Granny Smith, Fuji or Pink Lady, or you’ll end up with apple sauce inside the pastry. Serve any leftover caramel sauce over ice cream.

For pie dough

  • 6 ounces (11⁄2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 11⁄2 ounces sugar
  • 1⁄2 egg, lightly beaten
  • 8 ounces all-purpose flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 teaspoons water
  • For cinnamon crumble topping
  • 1⁄2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1⁄4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled, cut into ½ inch cubes
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon cinnamon

For apple filling

  • 1 pound gala apples, peeled, cored, sliced thin
  • 3 ounces sugar
  • 1⁄2 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 11⁄2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • For maple caramel sauce
  • 4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1⁄2 cup maple syrup (dark amber)

Prepare pie dough: In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until mixed well, and then mix in the egg. Combine the flour and salt and then stir into the butter mixture. Add the water 1 teaspoon at a time until the dough pulls together.

Wrap dough tightly in plastic wrap and allow to rest in refrigerator for at least one hour. Can be made up to two days in advance.

Prepare cinnamon crumble topping: In a food processor, blend flour, sugar, brown sugar and pinch of salt. Add chilled butter cubes; using on/off turns, cut in until mixture resembles wet sand. Prepare apple filling by combining apples, sugar, cinnamon, corn starch and vanilla extract in a bowl. Set aside.

Assemble pies: Portion chilled dough into four equal parts and roll out thin, approximately 1⁄4-inch thick. Place in individual metal ring molds or 4-inch aluminum pie shells. Layer the apples tightly into pie dough in tins until full. This will be piled higher then the sides of the shell. The apples will drop during baking. Top each pie with cinnamon crumble and bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool on pie rack.

While pies are baking, make maple caramel sauce: Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add sugar and pinch of salt. Cook, stirring constantly, until sugar is completely dissolved, then adjust heat to medium and boil for 2 minutes longer. Add maple syrup and boil, stirring frequently, until sauce is thick, smooth, and coats a spoon, 2 to 4 minutes longer. Remove from heat and hold warm for serving.

To serve: Divide caramel sauce on four small plates. Place 1 pie on top of each. Garnish with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream and wedges of Colby cheese drizzled with a bit of honey.

Makes 4 pies.